Socialist Worker

McDonald’s is not all powerful, says striker as workers at five stores stage a walkout

A walkout over pay and contracts at McDonald’s won widespread support, reports Alistair Farrow

Issue No. 2602

McDonalds strikers rallied in Watford during a walkout on Tuesday

McDonald's strikers rallied in Watford during a walkout on Tuesday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


McDonald’s workers struck for a second helping of wages and union recognition on Tuesday, International Workers’ Day. 

They are demanding a minimum wage of £10 an hour, the same hourly rate for all ages and the ability to choose flexible shifts.

Workers at five stores walked out as part of the strike—two more than the last walkout in September.

A spokesperson from the workers’ Bfawu union told Socialist Worker that the picket lines were lively.

“We had a midnight walkout in Manchester, with supporters and strikers outside the store,” they said. 

“There were pickets at the Manchester store between 7 and 8am. They chanted, ‘Hold the burgers, hold the fries, we want out pay supersized!’”

Manchester striker Lauren McCourt told Socialist Worker, “Hopefully this will inspire more workers to come out. It’s not just about McDonald’s, but all workers in fast food and other low paid jobs.

“I’d like to see the strikes expand to more stores outside London.”

In Cambridge and Crayford, south London, pickets ran for an hour from 8am. Managers in Cambridge were forced to shut down the drive?through service because of the number of supporters who turned out, particularly from the university.

The strikes have rattled bosses, who suspended two workers at the Manchester store. 

“They’re trying to intimidate workers,” one worker told Socialist Worker. “People in the store are worried and we share their concerns. 

“People need to see they can fight back—McDonald’s isn’t all-powerful.”

Support

Strikers won support from councillors, MPs and other trade unionists.

Labour MP Richard Burgon sent strikers a video message of solidarity. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted his “solidarity and 100 percent support”. Former Green Party leader Natalie Bennet also came to the picket line in Manchester.

Around 100 strikers and supporters rallied in Watford at midday following the picket lines.

Labour MP Laura Pidcock told them, “When fast food workers are on proper contracts and pay, people will ask where did it start?

“And it will be all you striking workers they will have to thank.”

She added that workers “are doing more at the moment than parliament has done in ages”.

Workers from TGI Fridays, who are being balloted for strikes, came to Watford to show solidarity.

Striker James said strikers have “made history”. And he said the dispute was about the quality of workers’ lives.

“We face awful conditions, drunken and abusive customers, and bullying and intimidating managers,” he said.

“They think we’re numbers on a spreadsheet but we’re here to say, enough is enough. We’re fighting for an end to youth rates—why should they be paid any less?

“McDonald’s makes $20 billion profit a year. Are you telling me they can’t afford to pay us a proper wage?”

James's name has been changed to protect his identity

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